Pinochet Judge Conflict Cited
LONDON (AP) _ A judge who ruled that Gen. Augusto Pinochet does not have immunity from arrest is a director of a charity run by Amnesty International, the group campaigning for the former Chilean dictator to face charges of genocide and murder acknowledged today.
The controversy over Lord Justice Leonard Hoffman’s links to Amnesty International was the latest twist in the tug-of-war over Pinochet, who was arrested in London on Oct. 16 on a Spanish warrant.
Pinochet supporters today stepped up the pressure on Britain to refuse Spain’s request for his extradition, demonstrating outside Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Downing Street office.
``Take your hands out of Chile!″ they shouted.
``We are widows of members of the armed forces and policemen that were killed in terrorist attacks by Marxist terrorist groups in Chile,″ said Veronica Vallejos, who handed in a letter on behalf of 700 families urging Britain to send the 83-year-old general home.
Home Secretary Jack Straw must decide by Friday whether extradition proceedings can go ahead, following the 3-2 ruling Nov. 25 by five judges of Britain’s highest court, the House of Lords, against Pinochet.
Pinochet is awaiting Straw’s decision under police guard in a rented mansion at Wentworth, 20 miles west of London.
A Chilean government report says 3,197 people were murdered or disappeared at the hands of the secret police during Pinochet’s 1973-90 rule after he overthrew Salvador Allende, an elected Marxist. But Chile’s government wants him back, partly to avoid exacerbating domestic tensions and threatening the country’s newly built democracy.
Amnesty International said Hoffman, an opponent of apartheid who settled in Britain in the `60s after moving from his native South Africa, has served since 1990 as the unpaid director and chairman of Amnesty International Charity Ltd. which gets donations for work on human rights.
His wife, Gillian, also a South African, is a secretary in Amnesty International’s press office in London.
Hoffman, 64, and his wife had no involvement in the Pinochet campaign, said Amnesty International spokeswoman Soraya Bermejo. She accused Pinochet supporters of trying to divert attention from the basic issue of whether the former dictator should be tried.
``There are many lawyers who have links with human rights organizations,″ Ms. Bermejo said.
``In fact, when Lord Hoffman was appointed to this case we saw him as being slightly unpredictable on a human rights,″ she added, noting that he recently ruled against a man sentenced to death sentence in the Bahamas, a former colony which allows appeals to Britain’s highest court.
In the Pinochet case, the five judges _ in an usual move _ allowed lawyers for Amnesty International to make representations.